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Skip Navigation LinksDepartment of Housing and Public Works > Construction > Building and plumbing > Plumbing and drainage > Changes to plumbing legislation

Changes to plumbing legislation

The new laws

The Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 was passed by the Queensland Parliament on 11 September 2018.

The Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019 was approved by the Governor in Council on 4 April 2019.

The new laws commenced on 1 July 2019, along with a new Queensland Plumbing Wastewater Code.

They form part of the Queensland Building Plan and deliver reforms to make our construction industry safer, fairer and more sustainable.

The new laws were developed in conjunction with industry representatives. They will make it easier for industry professionals to do business, understand their responsibilities and keep unlicensed workers out of the industry.

Queensland’s plumbers and drainers, builders, developers, local governments, water service providers and homeowners can expect some changes to managing their work.

These changes:

  • protect and enhance the health, safety and wellbeing of Queenslanders who need to use plumbing and drainage professionals
  • ensure high-quality and cost-effective plumbing laws, regulations and codes
  • provide an efficient, modern system for approving plumbing work
  • save time and money through a faster permit process
  • provide easier to understand laws
  • provide a stronger penalty framework, particularly for unlicensed work.

What’s changed

Stronger penalties for law breaches

There is a stronger penalty framework that increases penalties for those who breach the plumbing laws.

This includes prison terms for repeat offenders and sliding-scale penalties for people who perform, direct or supervise unlicensed work:

  • first offence: 250 maximum penalty unit (MPU) ($33,362)
  • second offence: 300 MPU ($40,035)
  • repeat offenders: 350 MPU ($46,707) or 1 year’s imprisonment.

On-the-spot fines for performing, directing and supervising unlicensed work increased from $1,305.50 to $2,669.

Reduced permit application time frames

Permit applications are now divided into two streams: fast-track and standard. Work on new homes will be able to commence 18 days earlier (exclusions apply).

  • Fast-track applications: From 20 to 2 business days
  • Standard applications: From 20 to 10 business days

Amending or extending a permit

Licensees can apply to a local government to amend or extend an existing permit. They can then amend their existing permit rather than reapply for a new permit.

More flexibility for local governments

Local governments can opt out of the fast-track process or expand the scope of work that can be performed under that process. This allows them to choose a model that best meets their community’s needs.

New appeal rights

There are new appeal rights at each inspection stage, enabling licensees to appeal local government decisions when work is inspected rather than at the end of the job.

Simplified provisions

  • Provisions have been simplified to improve readability and assist understanding.
  • Terminology and timeframes are streamlined across work categories for consistency.
  • Similar provisions have been grouped together to make the laws easier to find.
  • Schedules in the new regulation have been amended to improve usability:
  • Schedule 1: Notifiable work: Removal of emergency work and similar items have been combined.
  • Schedule 6: Documents to accompany permit applications have been streamlined to provide a better explanation.

Revised Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code

The Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code (QPWC) has been amended to:

  • remove all redundant requirements, e.g. where a requirement was also addressed in the Plumbing Code of Australia or a relevant Australian Standard
  • include all plumbing and drainage standards for Queensland that are required to vary and complement national plumbing and drainage standards
  • set out all Queensland-specific technical requirements in a single document in a familiar format to improve usability.

The structure now aligns with the National Construction Code, Volume Three, PCA 2019. ​​


Watch our webinar to understand the new plumbing and drai​nage laws.

 Read the video transcript (DOCX, 29KB)​.

Last updated 25 August 2019    Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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